Success brings fame, fortune and nowadays, people publicly wishing you cancer. Rachel Parris found herself going viral after her skits from BBC political comedy The Mash Report like ‘How NOT to sexually harass someone’ and ‘Why does Meghan Markle get so much hate?’ were shared tens of millions of times at the start of 2018. But today, fame and shame go hand-in-hand.
“I do get a lot of people calling me a cunt on Twitter and on Facebook. I got messages wishing me cancer.” Not dwelling on being a victim, she talks instead about her eyes being opened to the new people she’s crossed paths with. “The rich tapestry,” she laughs, dryly.
Parris’ journey to comic presenter-come-pariah was unexpected. She studied Music at Oxford where she fell into a comedy group. For the last decade she has performed stand-up, largely focusing on musical comedy, which remains her true love. She has also been an integral member of Jane Austen-inspired improv show Austentatious, which became a staple at the Edinburgh Fringe and will begin a residency in London next month. Her next solo tour, All Change Please, starts in March and gives Parris the opportunity to reflect on the “big flip” her life has taken recently.
“Exactly within the same two weeks of suddenly going viral, I got together with someone [comedian Marcus Brigstocke], it got very serious, we very quickly got married and I’ve now got two stepkids,” she says. “My career was simple before – keep writing shows about depression. I had no one to worry about except myself, now suddenly I’m thinking about a husband and two teenagers. In most ways, they were all very good changes, and I’m very lucky, but it did cause me to go a bit mad and get very anxious.
“The Mash Report being what it is, no matter what you say there is always going to be a lot of people who disagree with you. But there are also a lot of trolls just because you’re someone who’s got opinions. And a woman as well – it doesn’t help.”